One of the most celebrated aspects of San Francisco is its dynamic dining scene. Michelin-starred restaurants fill the city and visionary chefs create epic tasting menus that beckon the world to their tables. But, unless you have stock in Apple or a trust fund, many of these experiences are financially out of reach. Many local restaurants have created menus and bar bites that make their cuisine affordable and accessible.
Here is a list of our favorites:
Michelin-starred Michael Mina is a San Francisco legend and having dinner at his flagship restaurant on California Street is not only a wonderful experience, but it can also take hours, and cost hundreds. Chef Michael Mina, recently debuted a revived and elevated bar bites menu, available Monday-Friday from 4-6 p.m. Executive chef Raj Dixit’s bar bites menu features delectable Middle Eastern-inspired small plates that perfectly complement the beverage program, which includes a rotating cocktail list by lead bartender Anthony Attanasio and exquisitely curated wine selections by lead sommelier Jeremy Shanker, a Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Best Young Sommelier. Menu highlights include a spice-driven iteration of Michael Mina’s beloved Ahi Tuna Tartare with Urfa pepper, pine nut, and finger lime; Salt Cod Kromeski with ancho chili, black garlic, and preserved lemon; Kebab with beef ribcap and tangerine labneh; and the standout Symphony of the Sea comprised of citrus cured salmon, Osetra Caviar Fateer, and a deviled egg with smoked trout roe. The average cost for the bar bites is around $20.
The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus is the place to see and be seen for San Francisco society. So, if you want to get a glimpse into the gilded lives of the rich and famous, definitely, “Do lunch at Ro!” The newest salad on their menu is an incredibly-priced lobster and crab salad topped with caviar. This perfect trifecta is less than $30!
Farallon Restaurant is a San Francisco institution adored by locals and visitors. The interior is a dreamlike underwater seascape of handblown glass and mosaics. For those to want to experience the beauty, Executive Chef Jason Ryczek has created a great Happy hour menu that is every day from 4:30 – 6:00 pm. Included is $7 treats like hamburgers, half dozen oysters, salads, soup, and ceviche. One of the favorite local secrets is their caviar special. Which includes white sturgeon caviar, chips and Crème Fraîche for only $25.
With one of the most sought-after locations in the city, La Mar’s harborside patio is the place to be on a sunny afternoon. From Friday – Sunday 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm they open the patio for LONCHE, an in-between lunch and dinner service with both drink and food specials including their famous cebiche, empanadas, piqueos, Dungeness crab salad—all for less than $20.
Celebrated 3 Michelin starred restaurant Saison in San Francisco introduces a limited menu available exclusively at the bar for $148. In addition to Chef Laurent Gras’ prix fixe dinner menu available in the dining room, Saison now offers diners the opportunity to experience this 5-course bar menu. While this is a smaller selection than Saison’s regular menu, the bar menu delivers the excellent quality that is expected when one dines at the celebrated, award-winning restaurant. Saison’s menu is constantly evolving, but the five courses of the current bar menu includes Red Sea Bream, Sea Urchin on Grilled Bread, King Salmon cured over Sake Lee, Millbrook Farms Venison and Pear & Yuzu.
Through the vision of James Beard-award winning, Michelin-starred Chef/Partner Claude Le Tohic, ONE65 occupies six floors in the heart of San Francisco’s Union Square at 165 O’Farrell Street. Chef Claude Le Tohic offers guest two dining options that give guests an opportunity to taste his magic without breaking the bank.
- ONE65 Patisserie & Boutique: The ONE65 Patisserie & Boutique menu features an extensive range of house-made delights, including freshly baked French pastries, breads, plats du jour, daily soups, barista service and a selection of wines available on tap. The Patisserie also offers hand-crafted chocolates, ice creams, traditional French macarons, and other delicacies, all made in-house and under the careful eye of Chef Le Tohic.
- ONE65 Bistro & Grill: Located on the third floor, ONE65 Bistro & Grill offers lunch and dinner with menus that showcase local, seasonal fare minimally prepared to allow the ingredients to shine. All seasonal dishes are prices around $20-$50.